Slightly Scarlet (1956 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Allan Dwan|
|Produced by||Benedict Bogeaus|
James M. Cain
Ted de Corsia
|Music by||Louis Forbes|
|Editing by||James Leicester|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Release dates||February 29, 1956
|Running time||99 minutes|
Slightly Scarlet is a 1956 American film noir based on James M. Cain's novel Love's Lovely Counterfeit. The movie was directed by Allan Dwan, and the film's cinematography was shot in widescreen by noted cameraman John Alton.
The picture tells the story of Ben Grace (John Payne), a man working for a powerful metropolitan crime boss—Solly Caspar (Ted de Corsia) -- and their involvement with two sisters (Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl).
The ruthless Solly Caspar is fighting to retain control of Bay City's criminal activities when Frank Jansen (Kent Taylor), an honest man and mayoral hopeful, begins a strong anti-crime campaign. Caspar tasks his right-hand man Ben Grace to dig up some dirt on the candidate and ruin his chances of election.
Ben falls for June after giving her incriminating evidence about Caspar, who slapped him around for not providing any dirt on June's boss. Caspar kills a crusading newspaperman, but with proof of the crime provided by Ben, he is forced to leave the city. Ben takes over the rackets, unbeknownst to June.
Meanwhile, her sexually charged sister is attracted to Ben. She makes a play for him at a beach house previously belonging to Caspar and nearly kills Ben by accident with a spear gun. A thug comes with a contract on Ben and threatens to shoot Dorothy, too, but Ben guns him down.
When the cops arrest Dorothy for stealing a necklace, Ben intervenes on her behalf, making June finally realize that he's not as honest as he seemed. Jansen, who loves June, insists that her sister must go back to jail.
Caspar returns for revenge and finds Dorothy alone in the beach house. She throws herself at Caspar and his money, not even minding when June shows up and Caspar decides to murder her. June shoots him with the spear gun.
Ben arrives and wants June to go away with him and the money. She refuses. Caspar, not yet dead, shoots Ben before he can leave. The police enter the house and arrest Caspar with gun in hand. A lifeless Ben is taken to the hospital, as June and Dorothy follow in tow.
- John Payne as Ben Grace
- Rhonda Fleming as June Lyons
- Arlene Dahl as Dorothy Lyons
- Kent Taylor as Frank Jansen
- Ted de Corsia as Solly Caspar
- Buddy Baer as Lenhardt
According to critic Blake Lucas the film was made with a modest budget, and yet the film is richly colored and well decorated and is one of the best of the Dwan-Alton pictures. Lucas wrote, "Alton's imagination in lighting is as distinctive in color as it is in black and white." Alton uses extensive shadows and large black areas, and he accentuates an array of pinks, greens, and especially the color orange. The end result is a startling effect in many of the scenes, all in Technicolor.
Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, was caustic about the casting and the adaption of Cain's novel, and wrote, "...Rhonda Fleming and a laughably kittenish Arlene Dahl, are a couple of on-the-make sisters, and the fellow, played by John Payne, is an on-the-make big-time gangster. In the end all their faces are red. So, we say, should be the faces of the people responsible for this film, which is said to have been taken from a novel (unrecognizable) of James M. Cain. For it is an exhausting lot of twaddle about crime and city politics, an honest mayor, his secretary-mistress, her kleptomaniacal sister and the fellow who wants to get control of the gang.
- Slightly Scarlet at the Internet Movie Database.
- Allan Dwan at the Internet Movie Database.
- Silver, Alain and Elizabeth Ward. Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, film noir analysis by Blake Lucas, page 260. The Overlook Press, 3rd edition, 1992.
- Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, March 17, 1956. Last accessed: December 4, 2007.
- Jean-Luc Godard Top Ten Lists 1956 - 1965.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Slightly Scarlet (1956 film).|
- Slightly Scarlet at the Internet Movie Database
- Slightly Scarlet at allmovie
- Slightly Scarlet at the TCM Movie Database
- Slightly Scarlet film trailer at YouTube